The Lakers lost to the Hawks. Let that sink in for a minute.
Young stars Trae Young and John Collins each had 22 points and the Atlanta Hawks held on to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers, 117-113, on Tuesday night at State Farm Arena.
There’s no way to describe this game without stating the obvious: this was an atrocious loss. Just a few days after beating the Boston Celtics in the Garden, the Lakers, with LeBron James, lost to one of the worst teams in the NBA, and looked completely lethargic and disinterested on the court.
Whether it was wide-open layups, or open looks from three, the Hawks had whatever shot they wanted against the Lakers lackluster defense that allowed 117 points to Atlanta. Since January, the Lakers have allowed 124 points per game to their opposition.
“This was a disappointing loss for us,” said Lakers’ head coach Luke Walton to reporters after the game. “It’s time for us to get away and reflect a little bit on where we are as a group. We’re not where we want to be, but we’re still close enough. “
The finale of the four-game road trip started off strong as the Lakers led by six points early, and appeared poised to head into the All-Star break with a winning record.
However, things turned at the end of the first frame, as the Hawks went on a 14-2 run, tying a franchise record with 10 three-pointers in the quarter, to take a 10-point lead into the second.
“Our defense was good to start the game, and then we just started letting them shoot threes,” continued Walton. “We just didn’t contest them.”
The Lakers came from behind to recapture the lead in the third quarter, but it was all Atlanta in the fourth, as the Lakers finished the game with just 18 points in the final 12 minutes of the game.
“At the end of the day, we didn’t handle our business,” said Walton.
LeBron James led the Lakers with yet another triple-double, scoring 28 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and dishing out a season-high 16 assists.
“For me to get 16 assists, it means my guys made shots, but at the end of the day we lost the ball game,” James told the media. “I don’t care what I did individually, and I could care less if I’m not winning games, that’s what I’m all about, so I can throw this game in the trash.”
Newest Laker, Reggie Bullock had a big game with 15 points, and Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram each had 19 points.
“I’m definitely getting more comfortable,” said Bullock of his second game with the Lakers. “My teammates believe in me and I just have to shoot it with more confidence. It’s going to take a little time for me to get used to all the plays and how we run things, but it’s crunch time right now.”
Los Angeles had no answers for the Hawks young duo of John Collins and Trae Young. Collins, the sophomore sensation, had 22 points and eight rebounds, and the rookie, Young, had a team-high 22 points and 14 assists.
Alex Len had 11 points off the bench for Atlanta, and 42-year-old Vince Carter turned back the clock to the tune of 11 points.
The victory snapped the Hawks three-game losing streak.
In each of LeBron’s first seasons with the Miami Heat (2010-11) and in his second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2014-15), his teams ran off 12 game winning streaks before the All-Star Break.
The Lakers are going to need a win-streak of that magnitude to move back into a comfortable playoff position in the Western Conference, as they trail the Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings by 2.5 games for the 8th and final playoff spot with just 25 games remaining.
Fans in Atlanta taunted LeBron James throughout the game with chants of “Kobe’s better!” each time the King stepped to the free throw line.
Notes and Next
Lonzo Ball (ankle), Josh Hart (knee tendinitis), and Tyson Chandler (toe) all missed the game. New Laker, Mike Muscala, was questionable and did not see any action on the court.
The Lakers head into the NBA All-Star break with a record of 28-29. They will next take the court on February 21 at home against the Houston Rockets.